Thursday 10 June 2010

Game Reviews

Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
Devolver Digital, Croteam
Available Now - (£17.99 PC - only via Steam)
Review by Rob Wade

Serious Sam HD: TSE puts you once again into the role of the titular character, in his fight against the series' villain, Mental. A first person shooter, the game sees you use a variety of weapons in your attempts to right the world and defeat Mental.

Let's get one thing clear right from the off: I had heard nothing but good things about the Serious Sam franchise before I sat down to review this game. I'd been led to understand that it was funny and novel. After spending time with Serious Sam HD: TSE, I can say that myself and those people will probably go down on the friend list, probably to around the "christmas card once a year" category (although quite why anyone would send a card more than once a year is beyond me anyway).

The game has a lot going for it technically, it looks fantastic and the music and sound are good quality. Having said that, the dialogue, which was one of the things touted as great about the series, degrade to a series of crap one-liners. And I do mean crap. The great thing about Duke Nukem 3D was that he was just a Bruce Campbell rip-off, spouting movie lines left right and centre. However, where this game has tried to innovate, it just sounds crap. I swear this is a genuine line you hear when you shoot a monster guarding a door:

"A doorman should be in a suit!"

I kid you not.

The main reason, incidentally, that I don't rate this game particularly highly is that it's really contrived. The game degrades to a series of monsters appearing from thin air one after the other, running at you until either you or they are dead, and that's it. That's the game. It's such a wasted opportunity to do a completely fresh and interesting game. Maybe I've been spoilt because the last FPS I played was Crysis, but I somehow expected more from this.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating:
Graphics: Really nice, polished graphics, a high level of destructible terrain and lavish backdrops.
Sound/Music: Good quality music and sound effects, shame about the voice acting.
Gameplay: Bland, uninspired first-person combat, with monsters just popping up randomly with no real direction.
Lasting Appeal: Multiplayer mode is included as well as a single-player campaign.
Summary: Disappointing is the only word for it. A bland single-player experience, not really worth the RRP. Multiplayer is always fun, but it's not enough to make this game worth the price. 4/10
Wings of Prey
Iceberg Interactive, Gaijin
Available Now - £29.99 (PC)
Review by Rob Wade

Wings of Prey puts you in the role of a British fighter pilot during the Second World War. Your objective is pretty simple: Play your part in winning the war!

Understandably, the story in this game isn't exactly hard to predict. It's not like your character is going to be finding themselves in a plane hovering over the Atlantic when suddenly a giant penguin appears from a dimensional rift, intent on making you aware that you, and only you, can save the planet Fripton from a viscous (That's viscous, as in thick like treacle) enemy, hell bent on vapourising the planet's supply of Lilt.

If anyone makes that game, incidentally, I want 10%.

The graphics on this game are superb, with nice large maps, detailed backgrounds and plane models. The sounds are great as well, with an incredibly satisfying sound particularly to the machine guns.

The downside to this game is that the controls, if you don't use a flight stick, are absolutely bloody horrendous. It's to the point that the game is pretty much unplayable without one. Now, this may not pose so much of a problem to those who have a flight simulator stick and all the bells and whistles, but frankly games shouldn't be so divisive that you should be punished for not shelling out the considerable amount of expense necessary to have all the kit. Racing games aren't unplayable without a steering wheel - think how much they'd suck on PC.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating:
Graphics: Large, beautifully detailed backdrops and plane models.
Sound/Music: Nice, satisfying sound effects, particularly the gun sounds.
Gameplay: Solid combat flight sim action, which would doubtlessly be improved with a flight-stick. Virtually unplayable with a keyboard and mouse.
Lasting Appeal: A campaign mode, with a set of tutorial missions and some online play.
Summary: If you've got a flight stick, add a couple of points to the review score. A fine combat flight simulator, which could have been improved by not making the controls absolute fail. 6/10
Hearts Of Iron 3 (III)
Available Now - £19.99 (PC)
Paradox Interactive
Review by Rob Wade

Hearts of Iron III is a real-time strategy game set during the Second World War, and allows you to play as a plethora of different nations from within that time period in order to assert complete global dominance. To give you an idea of how historically involved the game is, you get a tutorial from an Austrian dictator who is, although they don't explicitly state it, blatantly Hitler. It's a particular brand of non-subtlety akin to kicking someone in the face in order to say "your shoe's untied."

Anyway, the game as I say is a real-time strategy game and plays out across the countries of the world. However, this is quite a bit more detailed than games I've played in the past. I've some experience in both real-time and turn-based strategy, with games like Rise of Nations and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri among my favourites of the two genres. How detailed is too detailed you ask?

Well, when Kent can invade East Sussex, it's quite a bit more detailed than I am used to. The game's good, don't get me wrong, but it's super-involved, and will alienate most of the casual strategy fans. If you're a fan of the more involved games of this genre, with all sorts of detailed levels of micro-management across various territories of Europe, you'll have an absolute blast with this. If any of this sounds far too involved, maybe this isn't the game for you.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating:
Graphics: Not really a tremendously amazing graphical experience, but the maps are incredibly detailed.
Sound/Music: Pretty standard fare from this sort of thing.
Gameplay: Very involved real-time strategy, perhaps too involved for most genre fans.
Lasting Appeal: Plenty of different campaigns for different countries.
Summary: For genre enthusiasts, there's none finer. For anyone wanting something light, this isn't the game for you. 6/10
It's a new year at the wildest school in the world.

St. Trinian's 2: The Legend Of Fritton's Gold sees the schoolgirls start a new term amidst the usual chaos and excitement. Rupert Everett returns as unconventional headmistress Camilla Fritton alongside Colin Firth as her old flame Geoffrey Thwaites.

A rollercoaster-style treasure hunt for the legendary Fritton's Gold ensues as they face their most fearsome establishment rivals yet, but the feisty and ever-resourceful girls of St Trinians are undeterred in their mission to outwit the villainous Pomfrey (David Tennant) and his sidekicks from the women-hating secret society known as AD1.

Thanks to our friends at Entertainment In Video, we've got three copies of St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Thursday 17th June (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

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